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Lessons from a Grocery Store Chain

This blog post really doesn't have anything to do with education, but it's a hot topic in my area, and there's definitely a lesson or two to be learned!

We have a local grocery store chain that's been in the news a lot lately for the last few weeks. 

Several weeks ago, the CEO, Arthur T. Demoulas was fired by the Board of Directors. They hired some other people. The employees of Market Basket were horrified by this decision, and let the Board know their opinions by protesting. They stood outside their stores with signs, demanding Artie T reinstated as their CEO.


Artie T. cared about his employees. He went out of his way to know who they were and show interest in them. He also cared about his customers. He worked hard to keep prices low, despite pressure from the Board of Directors. 

The protests and boycotts lasted 6 weeks. Most of the shelves in the stores were empty, especially produce, meat, and dairy. Loyal customers boycotted, and did their shopping at other grocery stories. The other grocery stores were over priced and over crowded. It affected not only store employees, but customers, suppliers, even stores and services adjacent to the stores felt the loss. The business lost millions of dollars during those 6 weeks.

Late last Wednesday, the Board of Directors finally accepted Artie T's offer pay $1.5 billion dollars for 50.5% of the company.

There were plenty of celebrations! Managers went to their stores in the early hours of the morning to prepare their stores, and sure enough, customers returned! Stores had welcome back signs, smiling employees, balloons, and everyone was just plain happy to be there! (I even saw a facebook post of a conga line of customers, complete with their shopping carts!)

People were buying whatever they could! (Not all the shelves were re-stocked yet, but there were plenty of choices!) 

I didn't get a chance to visit until Saturday. (It was the first week of school, and we all know that teachers are too tired for grocery stores after the first few days!) When I finally visited, I was greeted by balloons, smiling workers, "Welcome Home" signs, and a big crowd of Saturday shoppers. I knew the shelves wouldn't be completely stocked, but I was surprised at how much was available after only being back in business for a couple of days. I really only needed cat food, but I bought several items, especially the store brands... those purchases will help the stores build back those millions of dollars lost in the protest. 

Despite the loss, plus Artie T's $1.5 billion purchase, the low prices are still there! Yes, that's $4.99 for K-cups... they were $7.99 at the "other" store!

The whole purpose of this protest was that employees wanted to work for the good guy. They were protesting the "corporate greed" that had replaced their beloved CPO.

Many people these days are just out to make as much money as they can, and are "in it" only for themselves. Here, we had a person who truly cared about his employees and his customers. They trusted him, and they stood by him.

Loyalty like this is rare in 2014. 

I remember my dad was loyal to certain companies and brands back in the 50s and 60s. He trusted them, and kept returning. That sort of product loyalty doesn't exist any more. 

Perhaps it's because these companies and brands don't work at earning our trust. Perhaps it's because they're just trying to get our money. 

Perhaps employers and companies should work a little harder at earning our trust and our loyalty.

What do you think?

Tips for Teaching Procedures

The beginning of the school year is all about procedures. 
Tips for Teaching Procedures: Here are three tips to help set expectations for procedures at the beginning of the school year!

 The kiddos learn procedures for lining up, choosing books, signing out to the Library, how to pass in work, what to do when work is finished. We teach them the procedure for fire drills, procedures for lock down, procedures for evacuation drills. We teach them the procedure for going to lunch, going to recess, and going to Phys. Ed. class. We teach them the procedure for reading groups, playing learning games, math time, and using materials in the classroom.

And so on. 

Here are some things to think about when teaching procedures!

Tips for Teaching Procedures: Here are three tips to help set expectations for procedures at the beginning of the school year!

When addressing a new procedure, I'll get right up and act out different scenarios. I find the kids really pay attention if I act out what NOT to do! (Adding a little humor helps the memory!)

For example, when acting out how to get into line, I might:
  1. neglect picking up my materials
  2. forget to push in my chair
  3. run, flailing my arms
  4. cut in line
  5. get into an argument about who got in line first
Isn't it amazing how they'll always notice what's done wrong when the adult is doing it? 

And they're not shy about pointing out what I did wrong!

Tips for Teaching Procedures: Here are three tips to help set expectations for procedures at the beginning of the school year!

Once they've had a good discussion on what NOT to do, it's time to have someone model what to do. Have a few volunteers act out the right thing to do. Be sure to comment on each thing the child does right! This is a good chance to give positive attention to some of those kids who REALLY need attention!

"Notice how John pushed in the chair as he walked by." 
"I like the way Bobby walks at a good pace." 
"Did you notice how Marie let Anna go first?"
"I noticed Bradley kept his arms by his sides when he was walking."
"Of course Theresa put her math tools away properly before walking to the line."

Tips for Teaching Procedures: Here are three tips to help set expectations for procedures at the beginning of the school year!

The old saying goes "Practice Makes Perfect", but I think "Practice Makes Permanent" is more accurate. (I'm sure you know the difficulty of trying to break a bad habit, or "unlearn" something you learned incorrectly!)

After having several children acting out the right way for the procedure, it's not over. Find time later in the day for more children to model it again. Every time they go through that procedure for the next couple of days, have them stop and think about what they've learned.

"Before we line up, turn and tell your partner what we've learned about the right way to line up."
"Close your eyes and picture yourself lining up the way we practiced."
"After you share with a partner, take a deep breath before you line up."
"Put your hands on your head if you know the right way to line up."
"Name something your partner won't think of that's important to remember when lining up."

You know, it's amazing we ever finish going over the procedures and get on to the real learning!  But seriously, if you take the time to teach the procedures properly, the rest of the year goes smoothly. 

 And I truly believe that's worth it!
Tips for Teaching Procedures: Here are three tips to help set expectations for procedures at the beginning of the school year!

What Phrases Do You Repeat Over and Over?

Here's another one of my earliest blog posts! 
I'm sure you have phrases you repeat over and over in the classroom. 

As I look at this list, I realize many of them came straight from my dad. Who ever thought that teaching second grade would be so similar to coaching high school football?

Here are some of my most famous quotes in the classroom! 
(Can you guess which ones came from my football coach dad?)

There are some phrases that I say over and over.  It gets to the point where the kids say these phrases along with me.

"When I'm done talking not before..."

"... in two shakes of a lamb's tail...

"Turn and talk to your partner"

"Never settle for less than your best!"

"We don't save places in line."

"I can and I will!"

"Take a bow."

"Take a beanie."

"When the going gets tough, the tough get going!"

"It's good to see you today."

"Your desk should look like ____'s."

"A wrong answer is better than no answer, because wrong answer means you tried."

"Don't make me put on my grumpypants!"

"A mistake helps you learn.  That's how I got so smart."

"Thanks for making that mistake.  You helped us all learn."

"Thanks for bringing that to our attention."

"You have the power to change that!"

"That's a great question."

"Exercise is good for the brain."

"Check behind your behind to make sure you didn't leave anything behind!"

"It helps the brain remember if you...."

"As long as you do your best to learn, I'll do my best to make it fun."

I could go on and on, but I won't.  
What phrases do you repeat a lot?

Music, the Brain, Memory, and the Seven Continents

Did you ever find yourself singing along to the radio to a song you've never really liked, yet somehow you know all the words? Or perhaps you caught yourself singing along to a commercial on TV? Doesn't that kind of point out the connection between music and the brain? Yep, without even trying, you've memorized the words to hundreds of songs, right? 

I use that often in the classroom. If there's something I want the children to know by heart, I'll whip up a little song for them. I typically pick a tune that is familiar to all, squeeze in some words in a similar rhythm, and there you go! Sometimes I'll even make it rhyme, but that's not all that important. Nor is it important for the words to fit perfectly in the rhythm.

Here's a social studies song to the tune of This Old Man (also known as The Barney Song.) 

The Continents Song
North America, South America, 
Europe, Asia, Africa,
Australia and Antarctica.
There are seven continents. 

North America, South America, 
Europe, Asia, Africa,
Australia and Antarctica.
Now we all can cha, cha, cha!
I'll admit, the kids made up the second verse. I figured, if my second graders can name the 7 continents, they deserve to dance! 
Years later, kids come back to me and sing the song to me!

Want printable copies? See this freebie:

 Music helps the memory.
Music is magical.

Music, the Brain, and the Seven Continents: This post makes the connection between music and memory, and has a song to help the children remember the names of the seven continents.

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